Published: 06:00, 25 June 2021
A Maidstone mum desperately needs a kidney transplant and is appealing to the public for a living donor.
Shabana Balouch, 44, is a mother of three school-age girls, aged 17, 13 and seven.
It was after the birth of her youngest child that it was discovered she had a chronic kidney disease.
Sadly this has progressed during the Covid-19 pandemic to end-stage kidney failure.
The 44-year-old qualified as a doctor, but was never able to practise because of the disease.
Her husband is a practising doctor, but he has had to reduce his hours at an NHS hospital so he can be at home more often to care for her.
Mrs Balouch said: "I used to be a normal mum. Always busy, picking up the kids, dropping them off. We were a happy family.
"Now I just can't do normal things any more. I feel tired all the time. My skin is dry and itchy. Even the simplest task like making dinner for the family is beyond me.
"The worst thing is that my youngest child, just seven, still wants to hug me, but because I'm afraid she will dislodge the dialysis catheter I've had fitted, I can't let her."
Mrs Balouch said: "It was impossible to carry on with my job. Now my husband has reduced his hours too, it's placed a huge financial burden on our family."
Dr Aamir Shaikh said: "It's been terrible to watch my wife become so ill over the last two years."
Throughout the Covid outbreak, Mrs Baloch has had to endure complete self-isolation and has only gone out for health visits to the hospital.
The family have lived in Maidstone for six years.
She is blood type AB, which means that in theory anyone could be a potential donor. Despite this she has already been on the national organ transplant deceased donor's list for a year with no match being found.
She said: "The lists were closed for two periods during the Covid lockdown and then they wouldn't activate my membership until I had safely had two Covid jabs. It's all meant delay."
Even in normal circumstances there are around 93,000 people on the the NHS waiting list for a kidney, with the average waiting time being upwards of three years.
Because everyone has two kidneys, it is possible for a living donor to donate one of their organs, providing they are a blood and tissue match.
The couple are now hoping some generous person will donate a kidney.
Dr Shaikh volunteered but tests showed he was not a match.
Usually, the best matches are from close relatives, but Mrs Balouch said: "We have few relatives here. My family are in Pakistan. My brother has volunteered to be tested to see if he can donate, but because of Covid it is impossible for him to get a visa to travel here to take the tests."
So the couple are now turning to the wider public. Dr Shaikh said: "know there are lots of kind people out there who may be prepared to help us."
'Can someone give us this gift of life?'
Any potential donor will first have to undergo a blood test to ensure they are the right type and are a good tissue match. If that looks promising they will then have to undergo extensive tests to ensure their our kidneys are functioning properly.
They will also be interviewed by the Government's Human Tissue Authority to ensure they fully understand the risks they themselves will be under-taking.
Dr Shaikh said: "The donor can remain anonymous to us by making a direct contact with the transplant coordinator or make themselves known to us by making contact directly.
"Any one from any belief, religion or ethnic background can be a potential donor as long as they are healthy and pose no harm to their own health by giving this gift to Shabana."
Meanwhile, Mrs Balouch is due peritoneal dialysis later this week.
A machine will take over the role of her kidneys in excreting poisons from the body, but she will have to be connected up to it for eights a hours a day.
She said: "Dialysis is only a bridging treatment in the hope that a donor of a suitable matching organ will come forward.
"I wonder if there is anyone out there kind enough to donate a kidney and help me regain my life?"
Asked what the prognosis was if no donor came forward she said: "There is nothing to do but wait and hope."
Anyone prepared to donate their kidney can contact Mrs Balouch directly on email@example.com or they can contact Sarah Norris, the regional organiser for living organ transplants at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital on Sarahnorris1@nhs.net